Senator Cory Booker – No Exemption for Insurance Firms because History of Redlining and Discriminatory Practices in Homeowners’ Insurance Products
In response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), eight Democratic senators including U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and other fair housing advocates submitted separate comment letters.
The letters are regarding the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD’s) expressed doubts that the 2013 Disparate Impact rule is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities.
NLIHC, Senator Cory Booker and other senators, and other advocates expressed support for the Disparate Impact regulation and urged HUD to not amend the current rule because, despite HUD’s claim, there is nothing in the Inclusive Communities decision that warrants a reconsideration. Rather than weaken an essential fair housing tool, HUD should begin to vigorously enforce the Disparate Impact rule.
NLIHC reminded HUD that for decades it has interpreted the Fair Housing Act to prohibit housing practices that have a discriminatory effect, even if there was no obvious intent to discriminate. Eleven U.S. Courts of Appeals agreed. Because there were minor variations in how the courts and HUD applied the discriminatory impact concept, however, HUD issued the rule to establish uniform standards.
The product of the rule was the “burden-shifting” framework, which the Inclusive Communities Supreme Court decision implicitly adopted. NLIHC cited four court cases decided after Inclusive Communities that found that the Disparate Impact regulation is consistent with the Inclusive Communities ruling.
In addition, the letter by Senator Cory Booker and the other senators’ letter addressed HUD’s question regarding whether there should be “safe harbors” for certain sectors.
“There must be no exemption for insurance firms because there is a history of redlining and discriminatory practices in homeowners’ insurance products. Thanks to enforcement using the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard, the insurance industry has modified many of its practices to write more policies in communities of color and to address disparities in pricing. These changes have resulted in more customers of and greater profits for insurance firms and higher quality products and services for homebuyers. Progress has been made in this area, but it is not self-executing.”
The senators’ letter was signed by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).